Miriam asks: Are you in favor of the RH Bill?

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is leaving this weekend for The Hague, Netherlands to kick-start her campaign as the country’s official nominee to the International Criminal Court as one of its judges. Santiago is also the author and co-sponsor of the Reproductive Health bill in the Senate. She and Sen. Pia Cayetano have teamed up to defend the bill in the Senate plenary.

A survey conducted last June found that:

  • 82% of Filipinos say “the choice of a family planning method is a personal choice of couples and no one should interfere with it”
  • 73% of the respondents agree that “if a couple wants to plan its family, it should be able to get information from government on all legal methods;” and
  • 68% agree that “the government should fund all means of family planning, be it natural or artificial means”

Although these numbers are overwhelmingly in favor of the controversial law, Miriam is asking her fans, supporters, and also her critics of their position on the RH Bill: should or shouldn’t it pass into law?  Are you in favor of the RH Bill? Enter your vote in the simple survey form in the right sidebar and leave your comments in this post.

UPDATE: For those still looking for a copy of the bill, here is Senate Bill No. 2865 (per Committe Report No. 49) from the website of the Philippine Senate. 

Interview transcript – 21 September 2011

On Sen. Manuel Lapid’s intention to participate in the Senate debates on the RH Bill, and his proposal for the debates be conducted in Filipino

Mahal na mahal ko si Sen. Lapid dahil he’s very humble. Hindi siya mapagkunwari. Umpisa pa lang na nagkita kami sa Senado sinabi na niya sa akin na hindi siya na nakakaintindi masyado ng Ingles at hindi siya makakagsalita nang mabuti. Sa akin naman, bale wala iyon dahil sa ilalim ng ating Saligang Batas ang ating mga wikang opisyal ay Ingles at Filipino, na based on Tagalog. Kaya tama lang. Kung gusto niya ng Tagalog, managalog tayo. Kaya lang, kulang ang Tagalog ko. Ako naman ngayon ang at a disadvantage dahil sanay siya sa Tagalog. Pero makakayanan ko. Baka magiging katatawanan lang ako dahil ang punto ko ay napakalakas na Ilongo, pero sasagot pa rin ako. Iyon lang, gagamit ako ng mga mga medical terms minsan. For example, ngayong hapon sa pagkakaintindi ko ang pinag-uusapan ay when does conception begin. I have to use medical terms like eggs, sperm, zygote, implantation, fertilization and so on. Mahirap isalin iyon sa Tagalog, pero meron naman siya sigurong Tagalog interpreter.

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THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH BILL: LOGIC 101

(Speech at the inter-university forum on 15 September 2011 sponsored by the UP Law Center Human Rights Institute at the UP College of Law Malcolm Theatre)

Reproductive Rights as Part of Human Rights

Our topic is the nature of reproductive rights as part of the greater sum of human rights.  In legal terms, human rights form the totality of the freedoms, immunities, and benefits that, according to modern values – specially at an international level – all human beings should be able to claim as a matter of right in the society in which they live.

In international law, the basic document is the non-binding but authoritative Universal Declaration of Human Rights, accompanied by the binding documents known as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

In national or domestic law, the basic document is the Philippine Constitution, particularly Article 2 on Declaration of State Policies, and Article 3 on the Bill of Rights.  Our Constitution, Art. 2 Sec. 15 specifically provides: “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”  This right to health is now viewed as including the right to reproductive health.

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Interview transcript (13 September 2011) – “Reelectionists are afraid of so-called ‘Catholic vote’.”

On the ongoing debates on the RH Bill

I am afraid that the strategy will be for the debates to drag on until it would be time to consider the budget, at which time all bills of course will have to be shelved. If that is the case, we will never finish it by the end of the year. My understanding of the pulse of Congress in both chambers is that no one wants the public to know just exactly where they stand, that most senators prefer to just keep quiet and let the public guess. One of the factors of this reluctance, to be explicit, is that elections are just around the corner, and reelectionists are always afraid of the so-called Catholic vote. Although we know that in the time of former health secretary Juan Flavier he just started distributing condoms for free even without any legal basis. The Catholic Church campaigned against him, but he won anyway (as senator). So apparently there is no such thing as a Catholic vote, yet that is going to influence very heavily the length and the duration of the debates on the RH Bill.

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On Contraceptives as Tools of Preventive Medicine and on the Issue of Population Control (response to Senator Enrile)

1.) Health is defined in the WHO constitution of 1948 as: A state of complete physical, social and mental well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Health should be considered not so much as an abstract state but as a means or resource which permits people to lead a personally, socially and economically productive life.

There are inextricable links between social and economic conditions, the physical environment, individual lifestyles and health.

Health is regarded by WHO and its member states as a fundamental human right, and correspondingly, all people should have access to basic resources for health, including those to promote health and prevent disease, not just those that treat illness and disease

Thus it is wrong to state that “a health bill should only discuss sickness and medicines.”

2.) Pregnancy is not a disease. But pregnancy complications are diseases. The whole field of medical specialization called Obstetrics is concerned with treating pregnancy complications. If there are no pregnancy complications, then society can do away with obstetricians and simply produce midwives.

  • The major causes of maternal deaths, accounting for 80% according to the WHO, are obstetric complications in nature. These are severe bleeding (mostly bleeding after childbirth); infections (usually after childbirth); high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia); obstructed labour; and unsafe abortion. Only 20% are caused by diseases such as malaria, anaemia and HIV/AIDS during pregnancy. (Source: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/index.html )

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